Browsing the Internet through an SSH Tunnel (Windows)

VPNs are powerful tools and can help keep your network traffic secure. If you have a VPS or dedicated server, you could even run a VPN service from your server. The issue is that setting up and configuring a VPN can be time consuming and complicated. For some uses, there may be an easier way to securely route your traffic through a remote server (like your VPS or dedicated server).

An SSH tunnel is another method of rerouting some or all traffic from one location (like your local computer) through another (your remote server). All of this rerouted traffic is securely encrypted as it travels between your local machine and the remote server thanks to SSH. With a tunnel active and traffic proxied through the tunnel, that traffic will appear to be coming from your remote server instead of your local machine. This can be useful to bypass remote network issues or restrictive firewalls.

This article will explain how you can set up an SSH tunnel from your local Windows machine.


In order to set up an SSH tunnel between a Windows machine and a remote server, you need a few things:

  1. A Windows machine with at least one open port (the ability to connect to your remote server via SSH).
  2. An installed copy of a tool capable of creating an SSH tunnel (like Bitvise SSH Client or PuTTY).
  3. A browser that can use a proxy connection.
  4. A remote server running SSH and the ability to make other outbound connections to the internet.
  5. A user account on the remote server that is able to log in via SSH.

Setting up an SSH Tunnel

In order to make an SSH tunnel, choose the program you have elected to use from the tabs below and follow the directions.

Bitvise SSH Client PuTTY

Configure the Proxy Service

Visit in your web browser before completing this step and make a note of the IP address. The reported IP address should change once the system is set to use the proxy.

Now that there is an active SSH tunnel, you need to configure your local computer to use the tunnel to route traffic.

Your traffic is not secure until you complete this step.

The best way to configure the proxy service in Windows 10 is to set it up for your user account on the local machine. You should use that method unless you are unable to do so for some reason. Alternately, you can configure your web browser only to use the proxy.

Windows 10 Google Chrome Firefox Microsoft Edge

Disabling the SSH Tunnel and Proxy Service

When you want to return traffic routing to normal, you should turn them off in the opposite order that you enabled them originally.

  1. Disable using the SOCKS proxy.
  2. Disable the SSH Tunnel and Log out of your remote server.
  3. Confirm traffic is once again flowing normally.